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EP104 - Creating Better Outcomes with Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery with Dr. Hamid Abbasi

Today’s episode is part of the healthcare innovation series where I feature a healthcare company or a physician that is making an impact on patient care procedures or outcomes. Our guest today is Dr. Hamid Abbasi, Medical Director of Inspired Spine where he performs minimally invasive spine surgeries. Dr. Abbasi prides himself in being able to help patients that have been told for years that they just had to live with their pain. 

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In this episode, we talk about…

[2:50] Dr. Abbasi’s background and how he got started in the medical field 

The path to becoming a surgeon requires people who are very dedicated to what they do and are not afraid to work hard. In 1989, Dr. Abassi started med school in Germany. As if med school wasn’t enough, he also started a PhD in Computer Science in 1993. Dr. Abbasi finished med school in 1996 but continued school to get his Computer Science PhD until 1998. 

He started residency in Germany but that wasn’t good enough for him so he decided to go to Stanford for a post doctoral and research associate position. During his time at Stanford, he helped them develop a navigation system for spine. 

From here, he applied and matched to a general surgery program at Dartmouth College. After that, he ended up at a neurosurgery program in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Abassi’s residency ended up lasting around thirteen and a half years. After finishing residency in Texas, he decided to settle down in the Midwest. 


[6:59] What caused Dr. Abbasi to start focusing on minimally invasive spine surgery

Technology in the medical field has evolved immensely in the past 70 years or so but for some reason spine surgery has mostly remained the same as before but Dr. Abbasi is on a mission to change that. Gone are the days of 7 hour spine surgeries. With minimally invasive spine surgery, a patient can be in and out of the hospital within hours.

[11:45] Why minimally invasive surgeries have more successful outcomes than traditional surgeries 

Minimally invasive surgeries have a much quicker recovery time and the results are incredibly beneficial. A lot of doctors are not willing to perform these surgeries and patients end up feeling hopeless and like they are always going to be in pain until they come across someone like Dr. Abbasi. 

With minimally invasive surgery, it is usually just one hour and the patient is back home within four hours after the surgery has been completed. 


[13:30] How Dr. Abbasi started Inspired Spine 

The name of Dr. Abbasi’s practice actually comes from the scientist who discovered quantum physics, Max Planck. Dr. Abbasi believes that we need more curious people in the world who seek solutions to problems and want to continue improving technology. He enjoys being able to help people through his surgeries that no one else can. 

Inspired Spine’s sign is the butterfly because they are eager to help give the patient wings and a new sense of purpose because when you’re in pain your entire life revolves around managing your pain. 


[17:36] A peek Inspired Spine’s upcoming expansion plans 

Currently, Inspired Spine has seven locations. The flagship location is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Abbasi wants to continue expanding throughout the United States to be able to meet the patient where they are at. 


[19:00] What is the ​​oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion procedure and why it’s such a successful surgery 

Dr. Abbasi explains with a diagram the different spine surgery approaches. Over the years, technology has come a long way and now, spine surgeons don’t have to cut through muscle to conduct their procedures. Because the muscles are not getting disrupted from the procedure, the recovery process is much faster. 


[25:06] How physicians can get trained on minimally invasive surgery 

To this day, few residency programs are teaching minimally invasive approaches. Dr. Abbasi has an educational center where surgeons can learn the minimally invasive approach. 


[26:14] Dr. Abbasi’s minimally invasive thoracic interbody fusion procedure 

This specific surgery allows for a surgeon to achieve a fusion of both the front and back parts of the spine during one procedure. 


[27:20] Inspired Spine’s Fellowship Program 

Inspired Spine just recently got their first fellow, Dr. Aria. Dr. Abbasi says that there are also a lot of foreign doctors interested in learning more from Inspired Spine and there is not a week that goes by that another surgeon isn’t learning Inspired Spine’s techniques. 


[28:39] Dr. Abbasi’s first job 

Dr. Abbasi’s first job was in a factory and he did not enjoy it much. It was a good experience to learn what he didn’t want to do in life. 


[29:08] What Dr. Abbasi would be doing for a living if he wasn’t a spine surgeon 

Dr. Abbassi’s dream was to become a theoretical physicist but it wasn’t a career path in Iran so he settled for being a doctor. 


[29:44] What Dr. Abbasi listens to for news, information, or inspiration

Dr. Abbasi listens to books because he doesn’t have much time to catch up with the news. He enjoys a variety of books, some which are medical related and others are not. 


[31:22] What Dr. Abbasi does for self-care

Dr. Abbassi thinks self care is important and makes sure he always gets enough sleep. He also likes to build computers and finds this very relaxing. 


[32:57] Whether the desire to heal is innate or taught through medical training

Dr. Abbasi believes that the desire to heal is both innate and taught through medical training as some people are naturally more empathetic than others but the more technical aspects can be learned. As a physician, you need to be able to put other people’s needs before your own and a lot of people are unable to do that. 

Links to resources:

Dr. Hamid Abbassi
Inspired Spine 

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